He’s oddly fond of Putin, but his administration has been tougher on Russia than Obama’s was.
President Trump’s kowtowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki alarmed the world in July. Few countries had more reason for concern than Ukraine, which has defended itself in a low-intensity war with Russia for nearly four years. Yet despite the U.S. president’s baffling fondness for Mr. Putin, Ukrainians say Mr. Trump’s policies are surprisingly supportive of Kiev and hostile toward Moscow. In some ways they believe Mr. Trump has been much better than his predecessor.
“The Trump administration has a pretty sound foreign policy toward Russia, Ukraine and the region,” says Michael McFaul, a U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Obama. “The problem is that the president doesn’t agree with the policies of his administration.”
The tension between what Mr. Trump says and what his administration does—with respect to Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and even North Korea—has baffled the global foreign-policy elite. At last week’s Yalta European Strategy conference, an annual two-day symposium to strengthen Ukraine’s ties to the West, several attendees noted the conundrum. (The conference traditionally met in Yalta, but since Russia’s invasion and illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, it has been held in Ukraine’s capital.)
Judith Miller is an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and Fox News contributor.